Conservationists push to triple America's grizzly bear population

Only 1,800 grizzly bears remain in the contiguous United States.
By Matt Bradwell  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:36 PM
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TUCSON, June 18 (UPI) -- The Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to institute its newly released plan to triple the grizzly bear population in the United States.

The CBD has identified 110,000 square miles of uninhabited wildlife that could be used to expand the grizzly population through controlled relocation. There are currently only 1,800 grizzly bears in the contiguous United states, a number the CBD says can grow to 6,000 with their new plan.

"Grizzly bears are one of the true icons of the American West, yet today they live in a paltry 4 percent of the lands where they used to roam," wrote CBD endangered species director Noah Greenwald. "We shouldn't be closing the book on grizzly recovery but beginning a new chapter - one where these amazing animals live wherever there's good habitat for them across the West."

"The good news is that with the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, the health of Yellowstone and Glacier area grizzly bears has improved - but it's way too early to declare victory and walk away."

The CBD's plan seeks proliferate the grizzly populations in previously undesignated land in the Gila/Mogollon complex in Arizona and New Mexico, Utah's Uinta Mountains, California's Sierra Nevada and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

"All remaining populations are isolated, especially Yellowstone. Yet the science is clear that, if we're serious about recovering grizzly bears, we need more populations around the West, and more connections between them, so they don't fall prey to inbreeding and so they have a chance of adapting to a warming world. If we want these incredible bears around for centuries to come, we've still got a lot of work left to do."

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